The Rancho Cotate girls’ softball team not only fields a team that wins championships and tournaments but also places enough players on the North Bay League Softball All-League to staff an entire team. The league announced this month that nine Cougars made all-league. And the very good news for Coach Tracey Guerrero and Cougar softball fans in the community is that six of these nine top players will be returning for the 2020 season.
Coaching the varsity team since 2015, Coach Guerrero recently said about her players, “These girls came into the season with great chemistry and continue to strive on that chemistry.”
Guerrero knows from personal experience what it takes to be a great softball player. She played for the Ranch varsity during the 1988, 1989 and 1990 seasons. She passes on her love and knowledge for the game with this current team that includes two of her daughters, the daughter of a former teammate, the daughter of a Rancho football and wrestling star and the daughter of a former Cougar quarterback and baseball player. Winning Cougar softball, a great Rancho tradition, goes back decades.
Sophomore Reese Rasmussen, starting first baseman in her second year on varsity, reflected that her older sister, Carson, a star for Analy, got her involved with the game. Reese hit .291 and had 110 putouts.
Junior Kenadi Akin, followed in her big sister’s footsteps, as she earned a first team selection as a utility player. Her shining moment came when she hit a home run in a championship game this year. Kenadi, a power hitter, also plays some first base, earned a reputation for hitting home runs causing teams to sometimes walk her automatically.
Another junior, Kaylee Drake, recalled the Friday night light game: “We worked together well as a team.” Coach Guerrero said, “Kaylee has been our rock all season.” Kaylee earned the highest honor on the team being named NBL Pitcher of the Year. A powerful force on the mound, she had a season 1.39 ERA and 151 strikeouts. She batted .329. Guerrero doubts that the team would have had such great success without Kaylee on the mound.
Selected for the first team as an infielder, Tiare Guerrero thought of her teammates and their impact on her development. “What was good about this season was being able to play with older girls and learning something new every day.” Tiare, starting second baseman, batted second in the lineup and had the highest batting average in league play and second highest in season play. She is a lefty slapper with speed. She was selected as Co-Offensive Player of the Year.
Talia Guerrero, a senior who played third and first base, honored as a utility player, is another lefty slapper who can hit with power. She batted .353 and has made All-League in each of her three varsity seasons. She was chosen twice by the players to be the recipient of the Cougar Leadership Award. Talia said that as an underclassman, being around her mother and grandfather and the older girls motivated her. She will attend Cal State Fullerton and major in business next year.
Another senior, Makayla Barnes, chosen as all-league catcher, will attend Dominican River in Chicago and play on the softball team. Makayla will major in criminology and sports medicine. She has been the starting catcher on varsity the past three years and is a lefty slapper, hitting .346, and has power and speed. This is the second year that she has been named All-League and she was chosen as Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the team.
A third senior, Faith Cincera, a three-year varsity player, starting shortstop, made All-League for the second time. She will be attending Santa Rosa Junior College and plans to major in sports medicine.
Tatum Maytorena, sophomore playing her second year on varsity, has the game in her genes. Her mother played alongside Coach Guerrero in the late eighties and 1990 and her father coached the Casa Grande baseball team for 23 years. Tatum is a lefty power hitter who has speed. She compiled the highest batting average for the team as she hit .436 and was named Co-Offensive Player for the team. She also made All-League for the second year in a row.
Cayla Nixon, junior outfielder, a lefty slap hitter with speed, made All-League for the second time. She stole a lot of base hits from batters and was named Co-Defensive Player for the team. Her sister and father were Rancho athletes. Cayla fondly remembers the Friday night lights game where she caught a fly in right field and then threw out a runner at third to end the game.
Honors well deserved by all, these Cougars upheld Rancho Cotate’s great softball reputation. Credit Coach Guerrero and Rancho’s decades old tradition of winning softball.